"Have you found it?"
"The thing you love the most."
Aburame Shino barely managed to sidestep his father's attack, but in the process, his hold on the treetop loosened. He fell down on the ground nine branches below from the top with a heavy thud.
"Your mind is not working with your body." The Aburame patriarch's face appeared on his hazy vision slowly. "And you dare lose consciousness for more than ten seconds, a forbidden thing for a wise shinobi to do in real battles. Fool."
"It…it will not…" Shino forced himself to get up, ignoring the needle-like sensation on his back and shoulders. The bugs in his body did their best to cushion his fall, but the impact still nearly shattered his bones. "…happen again." Unconsciously, he dipped his hand into his coat and checked his sky-blue and white scarf if it was torn, damaged, or whatsoever. To his relief, it wasn't.
"It better not. You owe it to the clan you shall soon lead." His father glanced at him briefly, and then headed back to their camp. The boy knew what it meant: the training session was over. Grudgingly, he followed the clan leader back to the base.
There he found his father looking through their packed things. He didn't know what the man could possibly be looking for there at this time, but before he could silently wonder any further, the older Aburame suddenly motioned for him to come closer.
"Take off the coat," ordered the man grimly. "I will look at your injury."
"This is an order from your clan leader."
Shino pushed the bridge of his shades up, and then obediently pulled off his overcoat. He undid the knot of his scarf next. Although puzzled by the steady gaze from his father, he said nothing. He merely sat down in front of him, his smooth back facing him.
When after a moment he didn't feel any motion from the man, he turned his gaze at him.
"That scarf…who gave it to you?"
Shino shrugged. His shoulders reacted too.
This time, he had learned his lesson. He merely tilted his head to his side. His neck reacted.
He didn't move, so his body had no right to react. Yet his blood suddenly rushed to life, and one of its detours had been his face, unfortunately. It couldn't have chosen a better spot to conduct traffic, if its intention was to humiliate himself in front of his father that he respected very much.
"I should have known," sighed the man before starting to massage cold cream on his back. "Nothing could disconcert a man the way a woman does."
And once more, he found his father's words of wisdom true.
"What is her name?"
"Hinata." And he expected a question about the girl's family background, but his father had a different question in mind.
"What is she like?" asked the clan head, interest undeniable in his voice. It was certainly surprising, considering his thrift for words was inherited from the same man, and yet here they were, having a lazy conversation about a certain girl. No questions on clan influences, jutsus established, or whatsoever. It was all a plain talk of a father and a son about the latter's love life.
He looked up at the skies, pondering on the question. And then he spoke. "She reminds me of a lot of things."
"A brook. Quietly flowing, but with a deep sense of kindness and compassion within her." He closed his eyes for a moment. "She can also be a butterfly, graceful and delicate. I can see her too as a morning dew, subtle and soft." And then he opened his eyes, pushing the bridge of his shades up consciously. "I…I think that's how I can describe her."
"A special young woman, I presume." Amusement was on the old man's voice. "Your mother is just as special to me. I could have heard me in you decades ago when you described the young lady."
"I see," he murmured for the lack of an appropriate response.
"When will I get to meet Hinata-san?" asked the father lightly.
"She is not my woman. There is no need for you to meet her."
"I still want to see her anyway."
He glanced behind him, and his gaze was met by the clan head.
"That, or you tell her," said the Aburame patriarch quietly. "About the brook, the butterfly, and the morning dew."
His throat made an exasperated noise. "She does not need to know that."
"It's meaningless to talk to a person who's deaf." He couldn't suppress the bitter tone of his voice.
And this caught the attention of the man immediately. "Words are not the only way to express sentiments. It is only one of the many ways."
"She has another person in her heart already."
The man smiled. "But if she's as kind as you tell me, then I think her heart is big enough for you to come in too."
He looked down at the scarf that her hands knitted themselves and without thinking, clasped it close to his chest. He could still see in his mind Hinata's cheerful smile, wishing him good luck before he and his father left Konoha. How her face turned pink when he mumbled a shy thanks for the scarf which was her going-away gift for him. And her glowing face when he suddenly turned to face her in the middle of his walk to the gates' direction, saying that blue was his favorite color.
Yes, it was an outright shame for him to even think of Hinata as incapable of anything, let alone deaf. She was the first person to call him "Shino-kun" with such respect, and the first one to worry for his health in missions. She heard his muted cries for companionship, for a friend, and for someone to serve as inspiration. And his glacial ways didn't faze her. Sweet Hinata was far too understanding not to see through him so clearly.
She was capable of the highest understanding of love, and just because of his own selfishness, he failed to see that.
"Have you realized some things?" his father asked, although the man knew the answer already. His wise father.
"Like?" His father returned his coat already since he had finished the treatment.
"Defeating you sooner than you think." He smiled slowly. "And then, I will go home."
"And you'll tell her about the brook, the butterfly, and the morning dew?" asked the man.
"I'll ask her to meet you and Mother." Shino fixed the high collar of his coat, hiding behind it his smile. "I may not be her man, but she is my goddess. Will that be fine for you?"
The clan head nodded. "A woman that teaches my son to smile that way must be thanked graciously."
For Jingure-chan's fic challenge, with the theme, "Just Communication". I know my brainstorm in my batcave wasn't productive, but I'll never miss the chance to write ShinoHina wakekeke!